SolarWorld Q1 losses surpass $50 million

SolarWorld AG posted a hefty €40 million ($51.5 million) net loss in the first quarter of the year, up from a €300,000 ($386,601) loss in the same period a year ago, as it struggled with a severe downturn in the domestic German market and continues its own internal restructuring process.

The Bonn-based solar panel maker, which has been at the forefront of U.S. and European efforts to impose anti-dumping duties on Chinese manufacturers, said declining shipments and persistent price pressure led to its first-quarter revenue drop. The company reported a 34% drop in revenue to €112.2 million ($144.6 million) and a loss, before interest and tax, of €36.2 million ($46.6 million) compared to €26.6 million ($34.3 million) profit (before interest and tax) a year ago.

In the first three months of the year, SolarWorld’s shipments of solar power modules and kits reached of 109 MW, down from 147 MW in the first quarter of 2012.

The company recorded a downturn above all in the domestic market of Germany, due mainly to the unusually severe and long winter, the group’s continuing restructuring process.

The troubled group is hoping shareholders and creditors approve a debt-for-equity plan in August that is a key element of its debt restructuring efforts.

Moving forward, SolarWorld is set to start manufacturing new PV products, such as new and improved modules.

The company had expected an improved playing field for German and European manufacturers in the second half of the year due to the European Commission’s threats to impose anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on Chinese products, but the controversial move appears to lack majority support among EU member states. Up to 17 EU countries reportedly oppose the EC’s planned punitive action, a development which could further threaten SolarWorld’s financial outlook.